Article For Thought

Levi Pearson levi at
Fri Dec 21 09:29:47 MST 2007

Charles Curley <charlescurley at> writes:
> I'm not familiar with Thinking Forth, but Starting Forth is an
> excellent intro. The biggest problem is that there is no LeoForth, so
> the code examples may or may not work on your flavor of Forth exactly
> as they are given in the book.

IIRC, the version I found had the examples ANSIfied.  And Thinking
Forth is a later book by Leo Brodie.  Here's the blurb for it on

  Thinking Forth applies a philosophy of problem solving and programming
  style to the unique programming language Forth. Published first in
  1984, it could be among the timeless classics of computer books, such
  as Fred Brooks' The Mythical Man-Month and Donald Knuth's The Art of
  Computer Programming. Many software engineering principles discussed
  here have been rediscovered in eXtreme Programming, including
  (re)factoring, modularity, bottom-up and incremental design. Here
  you'll find all of those and more, such as the value of analysis and
  design, described in Leo Brodie's down-to-earth, humorous style, with
  illustrations, code examples, practical real life applications,
  illustrative cartoons, and interviews with Forth's inventor, Charles
  H. Moore as well as other Forth thinkers.

> This is true. It's an ill wind that blows no minds.

It's exactly the sort of mind-blowing programming languages that got
me back into computer science and re-enrolled in school with the hope
of eventually getting a Ph.D. and teaching.  My interest was first
re-kindled by reading about constraint solvers, which led me to an
Alan Kay talk that mentioned Sketchpad, a precursor to today's CAD
software developed by Ivan Sutherland for his Ph.D.  It was one of
Alan Kay's inspirations for the kind of object-oriented programming he
developed in Smalltalk.  

He also talked about Lisp, which I'd learned a bit of previously, and
that set me off learning all about Smalltalk and Lisp.  You really
can't study non-mainstream languages without hearing about Forth and
its more recent stack-based counterparts like Factor.  I've been
concentrating on functional languages lately, though, so I haven't got
around to actually using any of them.  That will change eventually,
though. :)


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